Monday, July 17, 2006

Fraser Valley Fishing - Mark Milke Wrong Again

On Monday July 17, 2006 in the Times Colonist Mark Milke falsely claims in, “Integration of Fraser Fishery Isn't Assimilation” regarding aboriginal commercial fishing that, “…there is no treaty or constitutional right to a separate commercial fishery.” Further. Mr. Milke totally misunderstood the situation and writes that court rulings say, “… the federal government could run a native-only commercial fisheries program. But could is not the same as must.”

In truth, aboriginals have a constitutional right to freely conduct commercial business within their jurisdictions. For example, have you ever bought say, gas and fast food on a reserve? Maybe you picked up fish too? In BC for example, the Douglas Treaties 1852 document a trading relationship between BC's Vancouver Island aboriginals and white people. Aboriginal reserved-based commercial-resource rights are long established.

Regarding Frazer Valley Fishing, the river is within existing aboriginal territories and part of many aboriginal communities' economic base, which in not in dispute. What is in dispute is what portion of the resource is their share. Also under consideration is how to more carefully environmentally manage the fishery.

Regarding environmental management, Mr. Milke misses this second point entirely. Canadian resources ministries understand aboriginals freely run resource-based business from their jurisdictions – including fishing, forestry, oil and gas etc. However, fisheries are a shared resource. Accordingly, Fisheries Canada must strike a balance between aboriginals, others, and what the environment can support.

Lastly, why Mr. Milke quotes the venerable civil rights leader Mr. King to support his false claims is dubious. The issue is not about race but about sharing a commercial resource - in environmental distress – among legitimate claimants.
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[Aside: Beyond and outside of reserve rights, aboriginals also have treaty rights, the rights and responsibilities of Canadian citizenship, and assumed rights of blanket royal proclamations. Most Supreme Court Rulings deal with these other rights beyond reserve rights, however this posts on Fraser Valley Fishing does not genuinely deal with extended rights so I do not write about them here.]

Edited 6:10pm July 17,2006 to note Douglas treaties are meant as an example, were primarily trade related, and Vancouver Island specific - again, meant as an example of commerce.

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